Jesus is referred to as the mediator in Paul’s first letter to Timothy. “For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5). Paul states that Jesus stands in between us and the Father . When the Father sees us He sees Jesus, and we see the Father through Christ.
In his classic work “The Cost of Discipleship” (or the more accurate title “Discipleship“) Dietrich Bonhoeffer writes that because of His role as mediator between God and man, Jesus is also for the Christian the mediator between that person and all other people, things, and experiences.
He stands between us and God, and for that very reason he stands between us and all other men and things. He is the Mediator, not only between God and man, but between man and man, between man and reality. Since the whole world was created through him and unto him (John 1.3; I Cor. 8.6; Heb. 1.2), he is the sole Mediator in the world. Since his coming man has no immediate relationship of his own any more to anything, neither to God nor to the world; Christ wants to be the mediator. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Discipleship, p. 95.
In other words, the one who professes Jesus as Lord no longer has any direct access to anything. We are to always relate to the everything by viewing it through, interacting with it through, and responding to it through Jesus. Here’s my crude attempt at drawing out what this looks like.
So for me as a follower of Christ whenever I see the one who has hurt me I should be looking through Christ (i.e. mediating my experience with the one who hurt me) and respond first with my love for Christ rather than the pain of my hurt. Or whenever I see resources that I might be tempted to put my trust for security in, I should see those resources through Christ and thereby see His desire to use those resources to help those in need. As a Christian Jesus stands in between me and everything else and thereby I should see everything and everyone through a “Jesus lens”. Followers of Christ no longer have any direct experiences because we have confessed Jesus as Lord and He mediates all our experience.
When we realize that Christ is the mediator between use and others the love we feel for Christ overflows onto the others that we see through Him. It helps us to forgive because the hurt and anger we may feel for our enemy is changed by seeing Christ first, because we realize that any “punches” we might throw at our enemy will be felt by Jesus first. Jesus is our mediator.
Still it can be difficult to realize that Jesus stands in between us and everything else. It can be an easy and convenient thing to forget. Still I try.
I’ll end with another passage from Bonhoeffer.
… the God given reality of the neighbour with whom I live is given me through Christ; if not, my relation to him is on a wholly wrong basis. All our attempts to bridge the gulf between our neighbours and ourselves by means of natural or spiritual affinities are bound to come to grief. There is an unbridgeable gulf, and “otherness” and strangeness between us. No way of his own can lead one man to another. However loving and sympathetic we try to be, however sound our psychology, however frank and open our behaviour, we cannot penetrate the incognito of the other man, for there are no direct relationships, not even between soul and soul. Christ stands between us, and we can only get into touch with our neighbours through Him. That is why intercession is the most promising way to reach our neighbours.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship, p. 81.